GILPIN WALLACE CHRISMAN
††††††††††† Inseparably associated with the history of Venturaís upbuilding and progress is the name of Gilpin Wallace Chrisman, an honored pioneer, whose activities in connection with subdivision work and the development and control of public utilities were particularly resultant and beneficial.† His efforts were ever directed into those channels through which flows the greatest and most permanent good to the greatest number, and at the venerable age of eighty-four years he is enjoying the fruits of a well spent life.† He was born near Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, March 15, 1849, a son of John P. and Barbara (Powell) Chrisman.† The former sought his fortune in the gold fields of California, making the trip in company with his father, who became separated from the rest of the party while crossing the plains and was never heard from again.† John P. Chrisman brought his family to the Golden state in 1850.† In the early days the father engaged in freighting from Stockton to the mines and on discontinuing that business he settled in Santa Clara County.† Later he removed to a ranch in Contra Costa County and through arduous labor transformed his tract of wild land into a productive farm.† He remained in Contra Costa County until his death, which occurred in 1906, when he had reached the eightieth milestone on lifeís journey, and for six years had survived his wife, who passed away in 1900.
††††††††††† In rural schools of Contra Costa County Gilpin W. Chrisman acquired his early instructions, completing his education in Oakland, California.† When a young man of nineteen he began farming in Contra Costa County and at the age of twenty was married to Olivia M. Lyle, of Iowa.† In 1869 Mr. Chrisman came with his bride to Saticoy, California, by the overland route, and brought with him six horses.† These he utilized in cultivating the tract of four hundred fifty acres which had been previously purchased by his father, and remained on that place for five years.† In 1874 he decided to locate in Ventura, which was then a part of Santa Barbara County.† Here he purchased a tract of land and was associated with J. R. Willoughby in stockraising.† Mr. Chrisman was thus engaged for fifteen years, becoming recognized as one of the leading stockmen of the district.† With clear vision he looked far into the future and saw the possibilities for real estate development here.† He owned forty acres of local real estate and in 1887 opened the tract of land on Ventura Avenue, the cityís first subdivision.† He was instrumental in the erection of El Jardine Patio, a beautiful building and the first of this type to be constructed here.† It is now owned by his daughter, Mrs. W. B. Aplin.† Turning his attention to the management of public utilities, Mr. Chrismanís business sagacity and foresight ensured his success in that field, and Ventura is indebted to him for her first electric lighting system.† In 1888 he purchased the Santa Ana Water Company.† The Ventura Land & Power Company, which he formed, established a reservoir and laid out the water system.† He was also the owner of the ice plant and the administrative head of the Ventura Water, Light & Power Company.† To marked executive ability he added an unusual capacity for detail and carried forward to completion everything that he undertook.† In 1900 he sold his interests here and removed to Los Angeles, where he was closely identified with real estate operations at which time he laid out and developed the Buenaventura tract.† Although many laughed when he subdivided that portion of the home ranch which had been a bean field, time has proved the wisdom of his course, for this is today the finest residential street in Ventura.† Mr. Chrisman is now living retired in his beautiful home, which is located on Main Street, between Chrisman Avenue and McMillan Avenue.
††††††††††† Mr. Chrismanís first wife died in 1918.† She had become the mother of three children:† Mrs. Edna Jordan; Barbara, who is Mrs. W. B. Aplin and has a floral shop in Ventura; and Clarence Lyle.† The son was born in 1875 and passed away in 1931, leaving a widow, who resides in Los Angeles, and has three children:† Haywood, a young man of twenty-three, who is preparing for the career of a commercial artist; John, now in his twentieth year, and a student at the University of Southern California; and Joseph, aged seventeen, who is in high school.† In 1919 Mr. Chrisman was married to Janet MacMillan, who was born in Chicago in 1871.† While on a visit to Ventura in 1897 her father met death by drowning and the mother passed away eighteen years later in 1915.
††††††††††† A Master Mason, Mr. Chrisman has been identified with the organization for fifty-seven years and in years of continuous connection is the oldest member of the local lodge.† He is also the only living member of the original directorate of the Bank of Ventura.† He casts his ballot for the candidates of the Republican Party but has never accepted political office, preferring to remain in the background.† However, as a private citizen he has rendered signal service to the community and few men have labored so earnestly and effectively in behalf of Ventura.† That his work was well done was shown in the excellent condition of the water pipes removed October 20, 1932, by the city.† These pipes had been laid forty-three years ago by the old Ventura Water Company, of which Mr. Chrisman was then president.† When the late Eugene P. Foster presented to Ventura the Foster Memorial Park in memory of his son Mr. Chrisman donated seven and a half acres of land, situated on both sides of the creek, in order to extend the boundaries of the park.† He did much to beautify the city by planting eucalyptus trees along the road from Foster Memorial Park to Stony Flats.† His love for his community has been demonstrated in terms of actual achievement but his good deeds have never been advertised.† Modest, sincere and unassuming, Mr. Chrisman has a wide circle of steadfast friends and is a man whom to know is to esteem and admire.† Mrs. Chrisman figures prominently in social affairs, belonging to the Womanís Club, the Tuesday Club, the E. C. O. Club and the Eastern Star.†††††††††
Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: California of the South Vol. III, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 435-438, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles,† Indianapolis.† 1933.
© 2012 †V. Gerald Iaquinta.